How did you start writing?
The Regency period has always fascinated me. The era has become synonymous with elegance and refinement but it was also a time of innovation in science and technology; advancements in the arts; an age of extravagance, where the upper classes occasionally indulged in amazing vulgarity, dubious sexual morality and gambling for high stakes. It was a society on the cusp of reform on all levels including social welfare.
I began writing historical romance in my spare time, working on short stories before deciding to try my hand at a full length novel. Eventually I plucked up courage to share the end product with a few close friends from the on-line discussion group I had joined after watching the BBC production of North and South in 2004. They loved it and encouraged me to write more.
How did you get offered a publishing contract?
I decided to join the New Writers Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (which I would highly recommend for any aspiring writer). Using the feedback gained, I sent the revised manuscript to Robert Hale Ltd., an established independent London publishing house. The Paradise Will was accepted for publication in October 2007 and published in April 2008.
What books do you like to read?
When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading! I always have a large pile of fiction and non-fiction on my bedside table waiting to be read.
My favourite Regency author is Georgette Heyer for her elegant prose, humour and wonderful plots. I also enjoy modern Regency authors, such as Julia Quinn, Stephanie Laurens, Nicola Cornick, Lisa Kleypas and Mary Balogh.
Other favourite authors are Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, the Brontes, and PG Wodehouse. I also read crime thrillers and historical sagas.
Where do you get inspiration from for your stories?
I accumulate snippets of information that give me ideas for characters and plots. This could be from primary sources, including diaries, journals or letters, Regency reference books, a photograph of a house, or even a family name.
Did you have any particular reason for choosing the subject or setting of The Paradise Will?
Having witnessed the negative turmoil that can be caused by a Will, I thought it would be interesting to set this novel (about a mischievous Will) against the stirrings of agricultural unrest which followed the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
I chose to set the book in Dorset as Tolpuddle was the birthplace in 1833 of a Friendly Society of agricultural labourers – a group who came together to protest against the conditions being imposed on agricultural workers. The six members became known as the Tolpuddle Martyrs; they were eventually tried, found guilty and sentenced to transportation to Australia.
Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
See the writing tips page here